January 19, 2019

Bite-Sized Reviews :: Jane Austen Edition {#41}

Oh, look! More reviews! Except this one is all Jane Austen stories. My favorite!! :)

Manga Classics: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Po Tse, and Stacy King
Of course I LOVED this! It's Jane Austen. :) I've actually had this one on my radar for quite a while and was very pleased to discover it at my library! It's just an interesting take on a favorite story. The art was fun and the storyline familiar and delightful. Now I want to read all of Austen's stories in manga form! :)

Emma by Jane Austen
I am finally making my way through all of Austen's works! And I wasn't sure how I'd feel about Emma herself. She was a tad annoying at first, I have to admit that. But she grew on me. Mr. Knightly, however? I loved him from the first! And listening as he and Emma quarreled and made up and just generally kept each other on their toes was a ton of fun. Harriet Smith's selfish nature stood out more prominently than I'd noticed before in any adaptation of the story, but I liked her well enough. And she sets Emma on a course that I, naturally, could appreciate! So she redeemed herself in the end. :) There were a few times that conversations got a little lengthy for my tastes, but overall a worthy read because it's by the always amazing Jane Austen!

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
It has actually been a lot of years since I first read this book, so it was great fun to get back into the story again! There are just very few romances as worthy of notice as Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy's. But it's not just those two sparking off each other that makes this story what it is! It is all of Austen's subtle, yet hilarious wit that really struck me during this listen. And listening to Austen on a roadtrip? Is the BEST. Trust me, you should try it sometime! :)

Bite-Sized Reviews :: Christmas Book Edition {#40}

Hello again, my lovelies,

I do hope your January has been filled with lots of wonderful stories so far. My life is busy enough right now that few books seem to make it into my hands. Other than books necessary for school, that is. Still! I manage to fit a small bit of reading for pleasure time in there wherever I can! :) Is it snowing in your part of the world? I know it is at my home in VA. But here in Thailand? Not so much! It is still quite warm and humid on the daily around here...

Meanwhile! Back to more book reviews!

A Holiday By Gaslight by Mimi Matthews
This book began making it's rounds on twitter and several of my blogging friends gushed over it's delightfulness. Yet it wasn't until I saw it compared to North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell that I knew I'd be reading it! I'm a goner for N&S and any story even remotely related to it. ;) All the gushing reviews are correct, my friends! It's definitely got N&S vibes going on and it's simply a really sweet little short story, perfect for Christmastime! Of course, Christmas is now over, but this book is still worthy of picking up. :) I was swept up into chapter one and very quickly knew I wouldn't be putting it down until I reached the end. Sophie is definitely my favorite character! Quite spunky underneath her proper exterior, she surprised me a few times with her choices. And she certainly surprised her suitor! Which was perfect and wonderful and made for a few awfully swoony moments! :D If you haven't read this one, friends, then you really should. I've already re-read it two or three times!

The Christmas Heirloom by Karen Witemeyer, Kristi Ann Hunter, Sarah Loudin Thomas, and Becky Wade
I admit that the biggest draw of this group of novellas was Becky Wade's. I've so much loved her Bradford Sisters series! And this was a wonderful edition to it. Yet the other three stories in this collection certainly held my attention once I got to them. From blunt grandmothers, to "stern" businessmen, and shooting competitions, the side characters and plotlines made me laugh and swoon. Sometimes at the same time! :) I enjoyed how the brooch made its rounds through each of the stories and tied them all together. Super sweet stories that are worth your time, reader friends!

Of Mozart and Magi by Rachel McMillan
This was one story that had me SO EXCITED before I ever dived inside! I am such a huge fan of Ms. McMillan's Three Quarter Time series of novellas, so I knew I was guaranteed to love this one. And I was right! I loved getting back into Rose and Oliver's lives. Seeing them in the middle of their happy ever after was delightful. A fellow blogging friend called this "a tiny piece of Christmas perfection" and she is spot on! From first page until last, the sweetness you'll find in between is sure to make you smile. Oliver and Rose are adorableness personified and now I think I'm ready to go re-read it yet again! If you loved Rose in Three Quarter time, this is the perfect story for you! :)

Bite-Sized Reviews :: Edition Thirty-Nine

Hello, my lovelies!

So I had a free Saturday (which are incredibly precious these days! Most of my time is CRAMMED with stuff to get done.) and remembered that I needed to get several reviews up. So here I am! With a whole bunch for your reading enjoyment... :)

On to the good stuff!

Once Upon a Laugh by Pepper Basham, Christina Coryell, Mikal Dawn, Heather Gray, Jessica R. Patch, Krista Phillips, Betsy St. Amant, Laurie Tomlinson
Ms. Basham's Titus is definitely a favorite character in this collection of stories! He's quite a terrific fellow. :) But all the stories made me giggle a great deal and swoon a great deal more. Super cute! And super fun.

The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski
It's terrible to read a series out of order, I know. But I've been so curious about this series and when I found only this one at the library, I grabbed it anyway! It's quite an epically drawn storyline that Ms. Rutkoski has created. I was very impressed with the details and intensity of the plot. And intrigued enough to want to go back and read the first two books someday!

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
I LOVED THIS STORY!!!! I have been hearing for years about how special this book is, yet somehow I never got around to picking it up until now. I can't believe I waited so long! Because this story is absolutely delightful from beginning to end. Every character was practically my favorite and now I am ready to go back and reread it for the fourth time since I finished originally... READ IT. You know you should, so just go do it. ;)

Wait For Me by Susan May Warren
I have very much been waiting for Pete and Jess' story! And it was worth it because Pete? And Jess? And Pete and Jess together?? Ah, my heart! I was so ready for them to both be honest and real with each other. Of course, it takes a bit for them to do so and we have lots of mystery and side plots to keep things rolling. An excellent ending to this series! I highly recommend it. And then you should go back and read all the other stories in the series if you haven't yet! (But you might actually want to begin with the first one because it's worth the build up of Jess and Pete...)

**I received a complimentary copy via Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Turtles in the Road by Rhonda Rhea and Kaley Rhea
This story made me giggle quite obnoxiously, I admit. And I was reading at night and having to be conscious of how loud I was! Terrible combination! (Except not really. ;) Super cute! Super fun! Worthy of a couple hours entertainment to make you grin and swoon quite a bit at the adorable romance between Piper and Jay. Definitely worth checking this one out, friends!

January 8, 2019

Old & Familiar Friends...

Hello, my lovelies!

I bet you never expected an actual written post that wasn't a book review, right? I have a been a long time gone, my friends, and while I wish this sort of thing could happen a little more often, alas... Infrequent posting is simply a product of my current life! In fact, since I've been so infrequent, I'm rather doubtful whether anyone is still hanging on around here...?? In case anyone is, here's a refresher course into my brain! (I know you've missed my rambling and nonsensical posts, right? ........right?)

Anyhoo! First up, I must needs point you to this article that I stumbled on last week. It's what caused my heart to begin pumping furiously with the need to write a response! So here I am. Responding.

If you haven't clicked over and read the article, please do so now. Don't worry. I'll wait.

Now then. Welcome back.

I think what first struck me was the fact that the title of the article totally references something that resonated with me. I am not 40 yet (still a few years left in my 30s, thank you very much!), but as I thought about it, I realized that my time in bookstores as an upper 30-ish woman is certainly different than how I entered them in my 20s. Ah ha! The writer of the article is already on to something!

But seriously. It's true. A couple of quotes struck me particularly and I wanted to expound a little bit more on my thoughts:
Now when I wander the aisles, it’s not just some future self I imagine but a past one. There aren’t just books to read but books I’ve already read. Lives I’ve lived.
So true! At this stage of my life, it's not just me looking for new-to-me stories (although that certainly still plays a part!), but it's much more than that. There is truly an immense comfort upon entering said bookstore and spying old friend after old friend on those shelves. This hit home particularly for me as I am currently living overseas (for just a few months). I had a week during the middle of December where my time was free for whatever I wanted. So I rented a motorbike and headed off to find bookshops!

Let me state right up front that that was so much fun.

It wasn't only that after four months of a crazy busy schedule and not nearly as much time for reading on my kindle as I wished that I was desperate to just be inside a bookstore...

It wasn't just the fact that I wanted to see what a bookstore looked and felt like where I couldn't read any of the books within, not even the titles...

It wasn't simply so I could snap a few photos and post them on my instagram...

It was all of those things and more. But what I discovered? Is that after so many months of being surrounded with busyness and traveling here and there. After stuffing my brain full of knowledge and more knowledge. After studying until my eyeballs felt a bit crazed and dry. The most comforting thing, the happiest moment for me that week, was the simple joy of seeing shelf after shelf of English-language stories. Stories that I recognized. That I knew inside and out. I found a couple Jane Austen's, a couple Tolkien's, and the sheer pleasure in perusing the shelves, taking as long as I desired, and simply basking in the happy of the familiar.

So that quote up there? I get it. Bookstores are so much more to me now than they used to be. It's the memories that those stories bring to mind! I remember the first time I read a certain book and the feelings it invoked. Even if I've reread the book a million times since, when I newly find it on a bookshelf in a bookstore or library, I am not taken back to the last time I read it usually, but instead to my first read through. And you know those feelings, right? That first time you read a new favorite story and the chapters keep building, your heart beats faster, and you devour each paragraph with hungry eyes and heart until you read the final bits where you close it with a happy sigh. And immediately want to flip to the beginning and start all over again!

You know that feeling, don't you? *nods* I knew you did. It's one of the best feelings in the world.


That feeling is the one that returns (in a subdued manner, of course, nothing can repeat that first read through feeling of joy!) when I spy a certain book named My Hands Came Away Red on some shelf somewhere. It returns anytime I see Jane Austen on a spine. It can even return when someone asks me about reading and I'm given the sweet, sweet opportunity of ranting about books for a while! Verbally. While a real live human being looks me in the eyes and listens. (Yes. This is a very rare occurrence in my real life. Humph.)
They’re not merely items on a shelf but points on a map, convergences I can trace to former versions of myself.

They truly are. And what I know now? Is that when every other bit of life has taken a huge leap into the wild unknown, bookshops/bookstores/books, familiar books, compelling and inspiring books, favorites and old friends....they are so much a part of my heart. They spin me away from the crazy of life when all else is whooshing out of control and allow me to just breathe for a moment. They refresh my soul and give me a reason to find a quiet corner. They teach me, all over again, that leaps of faith are worth taking, that brave is possible, that adventures are waiting for those willing to go, and that life has some precious memories that should never be forgotten.

And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Would you?


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